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Michael Ondaatje’s Warlight – Review

Michael Ondaatje’s first book, The Collected Works of Billy the Kid, was my first encounter with that sort of metafiction — a series of poems and fragments playing with an icon of American history. Through the novels that followed, Ondaatje continued to change and impress me.

Warlight moves with the same sinuous ease as his earlier novels. Here, the Sri-Lankan born Canadian author shines inky light on the dark, complicated nature of family. For his setting, he chooses what can sometimes be depicted as the bland and square world of postwar England. Ondaatje lived in the city during his teens in the 1950s and channels the sensations from that experience, along with the city’s Dickensian character.

Ondaatje plays with the elements of espionage fiction and defies the genre. He has fun with the spy novel’s toys the same way Denis Johnson played with noir in his private-detective novel, Nobody Move.

Read my take on Warlight in The Washington Independent Review of Books.

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